The Rene Herse Blog

 

A random collection of thoughts and ideas from Mike Kone of Rene Herse Bicycles Inc.

Note:  Also may include economic and political thoughts that may or may not offend!

   

Navigation

 

The Rene Herse Story

 

Performance and Build Philosophy

 

Rene Herse Price/Ordering Information

 

Product Offerings

 

 

Tuesday October 28, 2008

Wow we failed to keep up the blog lately - been so busy!  We've been testing out 3 Boulder Bicycles and putting them through the paces as we finalize tube selection and geometry.  Two of these machines were displayed this past weekend at Veloswap to a very warm reception.  We also had on display the latest Rene Herse off the line (still unpainted); a 650b frame with our twin plate crown that is really exceptional.  We'll post photos of all these machines after we attend the Rocky Mountain Bicycle Show this weekend.  We'll be sharing a couple of booths with Mark Nobilette.  We also now are selling frames under Mark's own name at our shop here in Boulder. 

We have more offerings added to our on-line store (click on product offerings to the right) and we now have Rene Herse T-shirts in med, lg, XL, and XXL.  The T's are very smart looking and have ben selling very well.  We actually had to do an "emergency" second printing to have enough for veloswap.

Next week we should have photos up on this site of the previously mentioned just-completed Herse frame and also the one we completed before it.  We're starting to get in the groove!

We're also thinking it would be fun to do a small batch of Herse track frames that we'd have painted in the team Herse colors from the 1970's.  This would be road friendly, but nonetheless would be true track frames rather than path racer type machines.  We expect a price for frame/fork in the mid 4K range.  With handmade lugs and bb, these frames will combine traditional Herse esthetics with the tour de force of Mark Nobilette's frame talents. 

 

Wednesday September 24

Well we are still test riding the Boulder Bicycle Prototypes and reviewing our impressions.  This past sunday I took the 650b Boulder Bicycle on some dirt and boy was it fun! 

Right now the 650b Rene Herse in build is on target to be displayed at Veloswap. 

More news - we have the Challenge Paris Robaix tires in stock!  Unlike our samples, the ones we've tried so far have fit really nicely on the various rims we've tried.  We've tried running them at various pressures - at high pressure they seem to "sing" like the wider tubulars of yesteryear, and at low pressures they get mighty comfy.  They are truly a gorgeous tire.  This past sunday (before my dirt ride), I took them on a 2 hour road ride on the early 70's Cinelli and loved every moment. 

Finally, we've jumped to the marketing "dark side" and now have official Rene Herse T-Shirts in stock.  We went for the understated look.  On the front, there is the classic Rene Herse logo and on the rear there is essentially a Rebour catalog page of a classic Rene Herse Paris Brest model.  The T-shirts are in a Heather color, and they are wringer shirts - meaning there is a contrasting panel at the collar and sleeve ends.  We have many sizes, and as always, your purchase of such items helps us pay the rent and is always appreciated!  The T-Shirts are $20 each. 

Thursday September 4

So much is happening

Don't get me going too much on politics - after last night I'm horrified. 

If you want to help support our activities but aren't in the market for a new bicycle, please click on Product Offerings to peruse or selection of randonneur and vintage offerings.

In just a week or so, we expect to have the long-awaited Challenge Paris Robaix 27mm 700c clincher.  This tire looks like a classic Clement tubular, but is a wide clincher.  On a wider rim like the Velocity Synergy it actually stretches out closer to 29mm.  The quality looks exceptional on these.  The tire feels very fast subjectively.  On my test of the early sample we received, I pumped it up quite a bit and it gave that very fast but very comfortable feel typical of many tubulars (went to about 95psi by my gauge).  Compared to the Grand Bois 28mm, the tire may have felt a bit less "comfy" but I felt less isolation from the road in a good way if that makes any sense.  It felt alive like a great tubular, but was comfortable because of its width.   These tires fit very tightly on rims (easy on Velocity though) so may need to stretch it but this is better than too loose.  Another sample I'm aware of seemed to have an optimal fit, so our guess is the fit is on the great to tight side.  As the tire can really come in at 29mm with a wide rim, be certain you have clearance.  With narrower rims it probably will come in closer to 27mm.

Our next "public" outing will be at velowswap on October 25 in Denver.  See

http://www.veloswap.com/expo/why_attend_den.html for information. 

Veloswap is perhaps not the ultimate venue, but lots of local folks (around 10,000) attend and it gives us the opportunity to have local exposure.  We will have new randonneur products on display and for sale, as well as Rene Herse and Boulder Bicycle demo bikes.  We won't go as crazy as we did at handmade show with the display, but we're sure to do something fun.  We may also have some vintage goodies too, but not certain.  We also plan to go to the San Diego framebuilders show in April 2009.  That show is being organized by leading Southern California builders including Brian Baylis.  

We are also considering setting up a display at the Rocky Mountain Bicycle Show the following weekend.  Once we see the PR for that show ramped up we will sign-up.  So far the PR for that event has been stinky.  The website for that show is

http://www.rockymountainbicycleshow.com/home.htm

We do not plan to go to the North American Handmade Bicyle Show in Indianapolis.   We keep getting emails and special offers to attend the event, but the location just doesn't make sense to us.  But of course, the Auburn, Cord, Duesenburg museum is located 2 hours north of Indy in Auburn - that alone makes the trip worthwhile, but not for us to be in a booth for 3 days.  We might fly in and attend and then go to Auburn for another pilgrimage, but not sure.  If you do go to Indy, go north to the museum - it is holly ground  for those who appreciate the finest autos ever made in America (if you are into that sort of thing - the workmanship and stories are amazing).  The museum website is:

http://acdmuseum.org/index.htm

Back to bikes - we think we settled on the graphics package for the Boulder Bicycle and demo bikes will be available at our shop in just a matter of days.  We are also toying with offering a hand lettered option for the Boulder Bicycles.  It kinda runs counter to the economical orientation of the product but so what?  There is a local lettering guy we just found who does fantastic work and we pass his shop twice a day on our commute - so why not at least offer it? 

In Rene Herse world, we have found some superior carbon brush material and have the local machine shop working on making a run of parts for the internal wiring. 

The plan is to have a 650b machine on display at veloswap.  We are cutting the build kinda close.  Worst cast it will be a "naked" frame, but with the cool fillets and handmade lugs that will be fun!

 

Friday August 21

Things continue to move along, but as always more slowly than we'd like.  We picked up racks for Boulder Bicycles from powdercoat yesterday. 

Oh - here is some news.  We are now having retail hours at our shop in Boulder Colorado.  The hours are listed on the homepage.  We also are available by appointment at other times.  We do everything we can to work around the schedule of out-of-town visitors.  Hopefully we will see you soon!

The sample 700c x 27mm clincher tires from Challenge came in.  They look absolutely gorgeous.  The are quite tight to mount, although another sample pair I know of was easier to work with.  The tight pair, though, worked like a champ on the Velocity Synergy rim.  My guess is that in addition to the Grand Bois 30mm, the Challenge 27mm tire is going to be the tire of choice for serious randonneur riders in the coming year.

On a different note, I took out the Cinelli track bike (set-up for road) today, and it was quite fun.  I mounted a pair of the tubular Challenge seta tires, the ones made on the old Clement molds.  While narrow tires aren't may choice for most riding, they are kinda fun in their own way.  The silk tires make for a very comfortable ride, but you also get lots of road feedback if that makes sense.  It is sorta like the time I first drove an old BMW 2002 with independent rear suspension nearly 30 years ago - it soaked up the bumps better than the large American barges, yet gave much more road feel.  I certainly wouldn't design a new bike for narrow tires these days, but as a fun treat for the retro race bike or fix gear the Challenge tires are fun.  We do sell them, so this is a commercial plug.  They are $150 each, but in a world of 4-7K exotica frame material race frames, running top quality tires is really a bargain.

 

Monday August 11, 2008

Last week we made good progress on the Boulder Bicycle racks.  We also picked up our lathe!  There is another Boulder Bicycle on route to us, and it should arrive on Tuesday the 12th.  This one will be a skinny tube 650b model earmarked for one of Colorado's better randonneur riders.  It will be about another 8 or 9 days until we can get the rack powder coated and the bike on its way towards meeting the road.

We are also hoping to get another Rene Herse into build in the next week or two.  This bike will be going to a rider in Denver who signed on very early to get an Herse. 

There have also been some developments in the lighting world.  We are not ready to go public with it,  but it will involve use of some existing hardware of a proprietary version for Rene Herse Bicycles.  We will have a headlight optimized for rack mounting (i.e on top of the light) with great illumination and a standlight. 

At this time, we think that most new Rene Herse Bicycles will use this headlight solution, internal wiring, and our special stem cap on/off switch.  The cost for all this will be the cost of the headlight plus perhaps two or three hundred dollars in addition to the cost of the frame/fork/rack and stem.

I had an interesting event after hiking in the mountains with the family a week ago.  Pulling into a convenience store at the top of the mountain ridge outside Boulder, was a forlorn rider contemplating how to get down in a nasty rainstorm.  Well, we helped him out of course.  But it once again showed why riding a pure race bike with no room for easily carried rain gear can be a problem.  The rider was pretty well seasoned; he is a writer for VeloNews.  But I bet he never stopped to think of a bike with fenders and a bag.  There is no reason to if you always come in before the rain of course.  But that knowledge takes very special talents.

The day before the family hike, I went out on the chrome Herse Rando bike in the mountains.  With my riding partner, we were discussing the choice between 700c and 650b.  He was on a bike with the very nice Vittoria 25mm open clinchers, but the 30mm Grand Bois tires really seemed about as fast.  And of course, the comfort was much better.  The wide 700c tires are so good, and they are reasonable on dirt, that their all around use is very tempting.  The best 650b tires seem a tad slower.  Riding with faster groups, I've never found the 650b to slow be down through.  And the advantage of the 650b for comfort over many hours is very appealing.  But it is a bit of a tough choice.  Of course, if an "ultimate" 650b tire was to emerge (i.e. about 38 to 40mm with ultra high quality casing) then the 650b would probably win hands down.  At this point, I think the optimum choice is very much open for debate.  But if one wants a bike that is ready to to do the long road miles AND be extremely suited for dirt, the 650b wins hands down.

What do I plan to take to PBP in 2011?  At this point, I'm still leaning to 650b.  The thought of feeling less cumulative road shock over the long miles really wins out.  Stay tuned for more thoughts on this!

On a very positive note, I saw a motorist grant a bunch of cyclists the right of way a couple of days ago when the motorist had complete right of way and the cyclists were behaving a tad reckless.  Then, the motorist signaled for me to go across the nasty intersection despite the stop sign that I had (and which he didn't).  I yelled a loud thank you!  With all the press recently about nasty car/bike interactions, it was quite refreshing. 

 

Friday August 1, 2008

Well another week is drawing to a close.  At the bottom of today's entry, you will see a few photos if the new Rene Herse currently in build.  It is designed for a Nivex rear deraillieur, therefore note the interesting handmade dropouts. 

The Boulder Bicycle project is moving along - currently working on racks for the 650b bikes.  We hope to run all the racks to powder coat next week.  Then we can get the 650b on the road (and the 700c also) and put them through their paces.

In the meantime, it is very hot here in Boulder, but many folks in town seem to be commuting on their bikes.  Unfortunately everyone in a car seems to be talking on a cell phone and isn't paying attention to the road - so everyone be safe out there and assume the driver does not see you!

On an interesting note, we purchased a couple of bikes from a 96 year old gentleman yesterday.  It was amazing talking with him;  he remembers as a kid seeing "old men" riding their highwheelers!  And we thought 1970's Campy Nuovo Record bikes were vintage.

As an aside, this gentleman also has a never-used lathe from the late 1960's with some tooling.  It isn't a super high-end lathe, but we plan on purchasing it.  That way if it is late at night and we need something turned in the middle of the night, we can do it. 

Check out the workmanship on the latest Rene Herse frame in build!  

(click on thumbnails to enlarge)

 

Monday, July 28, 2008 - next update this week - promise!

 

We believe riding bikes is more important than building them.  The only way to see if they work is to take them out and trash them (I mean ride them ahem.. gently).  Above is a scenic shot of our chrome Randonneur Rene Herse demo bike going through the paces in the scenic mountains outside of Boulder.  A group of three of us went out for a healthy dose of mileage, climbing, and dirt! 

Well we were wrong - we did not update the blog until today, sorry about that.  But finally it really will get more regular.  During June and early July we were extremely busy with travel and fresh bike construction.  Now we have no travel planned for many many months we will update the website and blog regularly (check back later this week) because there is so much to report!

A very special New Rene Herse for a very special rider is in the final stages of construction with Mark Nobilette.  This one has some very special features so while the frame is already constructed, the detail work will be completed in the next few weeks.  Photos of this frame should appear on this web site later this week (really!!!)

We showed a twin plate forkcrown at the Cirque (necessary for wide 650b clearance as no other crowns we want to use are currently available).  But we wanted a twin plate that will take oval blades instead of round blades (i.e a "funny hole" as our CNC shop calls it was needed).  The plates themselves are shown below.  They will get spigots added so that the fork looks like a classic Herse twin plate but which uses modern blades.

(You can click on the above photo to enlarge it)

 

The Boulder Bicycle project is moving along at a steady albeit slower pace than we would like.  The details must be right - and working with a maker requires lots of back and forth.  The process requires us to be specific and for them to understand what we need.  We now have 2 Boulder Bicycle prototypes in the shop, and a finalized version for a customer is being shipped to us by the end of the week we hope.  We are happy with our rack design (classic Herse, what not to like), so we need to build a batch of racks in the next week or so - then get them powdercoated.

A problem with using many production lights is that they attach from their bottom - not the top which prevents "canting."  To handle this issue, we are going to include with our racks a bracket (along with a slight modification to the light) that allows top mounting of the Lumotec FLY IQ headlight.

The photos below show the Boulder Bicycle (note the spiffy 700c x 30mm tire clearance) and the nifty rack (pre-powder coat) with light bracket arrangement. 

If you would like a Boulder Bicycle in the "middle" size range (55.5 or 57mm top tube) we figure that your bike could be delivered to you in 8 weeks at this time.

   Click to enlarge

   Click to enlarge

   Click to enlarge

 

Thursday June 18, 2008

Wow its been a long time since we've updated the Blog.  Figure next update in very early July, then the updates will become much more regular!

So much to report!

Our blue Rene Herse Road Sport bicycle won best craftsmanship in its category at the recent Cirque du Cyclisme show in Virginia.  Mark Nobilette, our lead builder, is getting the praise and attention his amazing work deserves.  Brian Baylis, an American framebuilding legend, did the wonderful paint work on this machine. Brian raved about this frame when he saw in unpainted, and he has a new Herse on order.

We now have Herse stem bolts and alloy nuts in stock.  They are the classic design, but made of stainless so you can polish them up for that chrome-like gleam (we polish the heads before you get them).  They are made a bit long, so they work in all the likely applications (easy to cut to length).  The original bolts were kinda soft, and many stems when they clamp down force the bolt to bend as the holes no longer are perfectly on axis.  This frequently happened on the originals, and we used a soft stainless, so the new ones do this as well.   A set of the bolts with alloy nuts (two of each) is $40.  This is a great way to dress up that Herse stem with ugly bolts or to replace bolts that are missing entirely.

The first prototype of our Boulder Bicycle Randonneur has arrived and we have photos - it is not yet decaled and is not assembled, but a bunch of photos should give you a great idea of the general details of this exciting project.  We especially like the arm off the canti bridge for the rear light.  Also, we at this time are making the front racks in-house to insure that they are optimized for purpose and fit.  Plus, if we find that we need a "special" tweak, it is much better to be able to do it here than to communicate to Asia.  Of course, for special requests it will take a bit extra time to send out for paint/powder coat, but we think it is worth it. 

The chrome Herse Randonneur we displayed at the NABS show has received a few tweaks.  We have new front light housings, proper Herse stem bolts/nuts, and a new stem mounted light switch installed.  You can see some new photos by clicking here.

We have some projects in the works as well.  We are about to get some new twin plate forkcrowns made for Continental Oval blades.  These will look like traditional Herse twin plate crowns.  The plates are to be CNC'd locally, and additional spigot pieces are brazed on by Mark.  A round tube version of this plate was displayed at the recent Cirque.

We're deciding what to do for front lights.  The new Super Nova light is extremely nice, and we may incorporate it into our machines or alternatively me continue to proceed with our twin light project.  We may even pursue both options. 

 

______________________________________________________________

 
   
Tuesday April 29

Just spent some time on the new Rene Herse "race" frame we had displayed at the handmade show (the blue one).  This frame has heavier tubing than the chrome randonneur, but is still quite pleasant.  But the lighter frame actually seems to have more spunk.  There really is something to the lighter tubing I think.

Interestingly, I was brainstorming with an engineering friend, and we agreed on a rather odd idea.  It is at least possible that if you take two frames, one of which has lighter tubing, it is possible that the stiffer one may exhibit more flex at the front deraillieur (i.e you have more chain rub).  Still thinking this through, but the idea is that deflection of the main triangle and deflection more localized at the bb shell both occur.  If a frame deflects very little in the triangle, the bb shell may be deflecting more in relation to the seatube than the frame that has more flexy main tubes in general.  So the perverse result is that a frame with a lighter top tube (with all else the same) may have less chain rub than the one with the heavier top tube. 

Of course, does this really mean much?  Probably not.  But it does illustrate that frame flex occurs in multiple places and in general is not well understood or quantified.  But we're working on it. 

On an unrelated note, there seems to be support for a gasoline tax rollback.  Argghh - they have it all backward.   If the politicians can scratch their heads back to econ 101, they will remember that a tax on a good is borne by both the the supplier and the consumer; so a rollback in gas taxes does not go completely into the pockets of consumers but rather the benefit split between them.  Frankly, I'm not a fan of putting more money into the pockets of oil companies and some of the rogue states that operate the national's. 

What we need is a much larger gasoline tax that reduces gasoline (and automobile usage) consumption and funds mass transit and an improved rail systems.  Why is it that my 1976 BMW 2002 gets much better gas mileage than many modern cars? (including what I typically drive). 

 

Monday April 28

I'm going to try to update the blog much more often - seems folks have been reading it and looking for much (much!) more...

Our website still needs some help.  This week we'll start exploring options for something that is on par with the bikes we make. 

If the machine shop is true to their word, we should have new proper Rene Herse stem bolts and aluminum nuts ready for pick-up tomorrow.  My guess is they will really be done on thursday.   We will finalize pricing once we see the final product and inspect it;  then we should be offering them for sale by the end of the week.

We have a local individual working on our Decaleurs - will see what the status is this week.

We just received a shipment of LED emitters, and now the task is to build light housings that are in keeping with the Rene Herse tradition.  Waterproofing is also extremely important as well (or more important! - the lights must work in the rain).

Our customized tubing for lugmaking was delivered awhile back from the local machine shop and we're very pleased.  This will help speed up lugmaking.

Interest is growing for the Boulder Bicycle complete bike project; and the project is moving along well.  Right now the 700c prototype is in build.  We need to focus on the finish;  right now were looking at a light blue which pays homage to Rene Herse blue.  We want a color that is relatively light since anything that aids visibility is a plus.

The 650b prototype hopefully isn't far off.  Right now were finalizing details, with tire and fender clearance the focus.  We need to be able to clear a 55mm fender, and of course have it mount correctly for a flawless fenderline.

Thursday April 3

We took delivery of our tubing for our lug making operations - and it is very nicely machined. We have a wonderful machine shop in walking distance from our North Boulder Shop location.  Right now they are giving us an estimate on our next hardware project - Herse stem bolts and nuts.  The bolts will be in polished stainless and the nuts in the traditional aluminum.  They will be made a tad long for use with Herse Decaleurs or can be cut for use with standard Herse stems.  We like using stainless for hardware since it looks like chrome when polished but is a bit easier on the environment. 

We also have been working on some tire projects - and will have some exciting news about something new very soon!

The Cirque is coming up soon in Virginia (the weekend of June 8).  Construction of our next bikes is commencing, but we're not sure if we will have the 650b machine done in time for the show.  It was more important to slow things down and batch some of the operations (such as getting the machined 4130 tubing for lug blanks) as that will assist future production and help make quality even better.

If anyone wants to try test-riding one of our built Herse bikes at the Cirque please let us know.  Getting feedback on bikes is crucial to the matching process and we want folks to experience the light tube set on the chrome Herse randonneur demo bike we have (only if it is a reasonable fit of course!).

The inexpensive bike project is really moving ahead - geometry is being finalized, and we are currently targeting delivery of the first wave of bikes for the middle-to-end of June.

 

Wednesday March 5

My first Entry!   Right now the Herse project is moving along well.  We will receive a large shipment of 4130 tubes for lug and bottom bracket making in a few days.  We will make the blanks in small batches which should free up a bit of Mark's time;  necessary since we need to focus on production versions of lighting.  Also important, we need to do some batches of Herse hardware.  Stem binder bolts and canti brake bolts with threads to mount racks are high on the priority list. 

I'm excited about our less expensive line of bikes that will be sold under the Boulder Bicycle name (unless we come up with a better label).  They will be TIG welded and made in the United States.  That also helps the US economy which is rapidly loosing its manufacturing base.  In the next few days I'll try to finalize some of the 700c bike specs and get the prototypes on their way.